Monday, November 23, 2020

Health Benefits of Thanksgiving Foods



Packed with hunger-fighting and muscle-building protein -- even the dark meat is good for you! Turkey a great centerpiece for a healthy Thanksgiving table, as long as you pass on the fatty skin.

Sweet Potatoes 

Low in calories, yet bursting with natural sweetness and powerful antioxidants like lycopene. And there are so many ways to eat sweet potatoes: baked, stuffed, mashed, roasted or whipped into sweet potato pie.


Fresh or dried, cranberries are packed with fiber, cell-protecting anthocyanin and vitamin C. Add some to stuffing, grain salads, desserts or good old cranberry sauce.

Green Beans

These tasty beans give you vitamins C, A and K, plus iron and fiber – all for about 35 calories per cup.


This holiday classic can make its way to your meal in a variety of fashions – straight up kernels, casserole and cornbread just to name a few. It has high fiber content which helps in digestion.  Corn is also high in B vitamins. 


Keep the doctor away with vitamins A and C and the inflammation-fighting phytochemical called quercetin. Keep the peels on when you make pies, tarts and applesauce there are lots of nutrients in there.


Add both the flesh and seeds to your holiday dishes to get vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and antioxidants like lutein and beta carotene. Cooked pumpkin adds lots of silky creamy texture without fat and cholesterol.


It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without this robust herb. A little goes a long way, giving big flavor for a smidge of calories. This tasty spice is high in antioxidants and helps support memory and brain health. 


Cinnamon is a powerful spice – it gives savory dishes warmth and depth and brings out the flavor of fall favorites like apples, pears and pumpkin. You’ll also get a dose of fiber, calcium and iron. Regular consumption of this toasty spice may also help keep blood sugar and cholesterol in check.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Positive Benefits of Spending Time With Family During The Holidays



Good relationships are the key to a longer life. In a Harvard study on some 309,000 people, it was found that the lack of strong familial or friend ties increase the risk of premature death by 50%—that's comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day!


A large Swedish study conducted on people over the ages of 75 showed that those with the strongest, healthiest family ties had the lowest risk for dementia.


Sometimes we don't realize how good things used to be until we're back in our childhood bedroom, slightly too big for our bed and definitely too old for the posters plastered on the wall. But that sentimental longing is a good reminder not to take things in life (family included) for granted, and to celebrate the person you've grown up to be.


Holiday celebrations with your family aren't just about the adult activities, but spending and enjoying quality time with children, whether young nieces and nephews or your friends' little ones. Their excitement and joy is infectious, and family holidays are the perfect time to shed your reservations and indulge in play time, completely guilt-free.


Stress can wreak havoc on your body and your brain. Spending quality time and venting to trusted family during the holidays can help. A study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that those who took the time and had people to vent to had a lower pulse and blood pressure. A separate study conducted at Carnegie Mellon found that people who spent time with their families found healthier ways to cope with stress.


Tired of takeout? Being home for the holidays can solve that. There's nothing like your mom's casserole or your aunt's sweet potato pie to make you feel cozy and grateful.


Let's face it, no matter how old we get, going home for the holidays makes us feel young again. And while that's not always a good thing, we can't deny the positive benefit of having your parents around. Sleeping in, getting breakfast made for you, not having to do many chores–it's the perfect mini break from life as a grown-up.


Sharing in long-held traditions is one of the most important aspects of the holidays. It's your family rituals that help tie you together, and there are few things better than getting to honor them, side by side. Even better? Now that you're older, you'll get to create new ones with your family that will last a lifetime.


Home is where the heart is, right? Linking with your family for the holidays is also a perfect time to experience new places and activities as a unit. You can introduce familiar people to unfamiliar settings, allowing everyone to expand their comfort zone, learn new things about each other, and become closer as a result.


No one knows you better than your family, and getting a chance to reminisce about old times and laugh at silly jokes you all have is one of the big perks. Plus, laughter has real health benefits; it's known to boost the immune system, releases stress, and even burns calories!


These days, we're a little too connected to the world at times. Spending the day with family, taking those moment's to catch up, laugh, eat, and be merry means less time spent liking, commenting or posting... and that's a good thing. Giving your brain (and fingers) a much-needed phone break results in more time with the people you love, and more refreshed perspective once it's time to plug back in.


Psychological help goes beyond the here and now. The emotional support provided by your family also gives you a greater sense of well-being. One study found that people who had supportive family and friends reported having a stronger sense of purpose, an excitement for the future, and saw a greater meaning to life.


Honestly, the most important thing about spending time with family during the holidays is...spending time. Through the good, bad, annoying and awe-inducing moments, family is an integral part of our lives, and joining together for the holidays can remind you of all the things you love about them. And really, isn't that what it's all about?

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Why Carbs Are So Important For Your Workout

You've had a good night's sleep. You're well hydrated. You've built a killer Spotify playlist. Still, you have no energy. What gives?

While it's all-too-easy to fear 'em (especially in the age of paleo and keto), healthy carbs-or specifically a lack of 'em-could be the reason you're totally gassed. Carbs should make up the majority of your diet, especially if you're active.  In fact, healthy carbs are important and crucial for a healthy, active lifestyle.

Of course, it's easy to have a lot of questions when it comes to the macronutrient (like what exactly counts as a healthy carb? or how should I be fueling my workout with carbs?). So what do you really need to know? Consider this your ultimate guide to carbs-the healthy, the not so healthy, and how they can help you feel healthier, stat.

What are carbohydrates anyway?

In addition to protein and fat, carbohydrates are one of the three macronutrients in food, and you need them for energy and fuel. When you exercise, you need something to start your engine and keep it going, and that something often comes in the form of healthy carbs. They're our primary energy source during exercise, and we can't get to the same level of intensity if we're carb depleted.

Not all carbs are created equal, however. Naturally occurring sugars like fructose in fruit and lactose in dairy, sugars that are added to foods, and refined grains such as white rice are broken down quickly by your body. That means they provide almost-instant energy, but it doesn't quite last. And unless they're bundled with other nutrients, like the fiber in an apple or the protein in yogurt? They're basically "empty" calories. Other carbs, such as those found in whole grains, vegetables, and legumes take longer to digest, so you get a steadier supply of energy.

And while some carbs (think: cupcakes) are sky-high in calories, that's not always the case. Many foods that contain carbs, such as fruits and vegetables, are low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Other healthy carbs fall somewhere in between. Whole grains, for example, contain a lot of nutrients and calories, while low-fat dairy has a medium amount of both.

In essence, you want to always cut down on added sugar and refined grains and consider all other healthy carbs fair game.

What happens when I eat carbs?

When you eat carbohydrates, they get broken down into sugars (glucose, fructose, and galactose) and are either quickly used for energy or are stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles for use later. When you eat any type of carb, your body also releases insulin to help you regulate an increase in blood sugar.

How fast they get broken down depends on the type of carb you eat. Simple carbs quickly get broken down into your bloodstream and give you a supercharge of energy, but leave you at a low later on. Classic examples: fruit juice, white bread, white rice, cereals with little fiber, bagels, and candy. Eating these can become a vicious cycle too, because your body gets a rush and then crashes, leaving you craving a fix.

Complex carbs-your fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (with less sugar and more fiber)-are broken down at a slower rate, on the other hand, and can help keep your cholesterol levels and weight under control. 

Should I eat healthy carbs before and after working out?

You've likely heard the term "carbo-loading"-and there's something to it: Most of the time, you want to fuel your body with whole-grain, high-fiber (3g or more) complex, healthy carbs. The idea is to provide your body with easily digestible energy far enough in advance that your workout isn't interrupted by the digestion process, about 45 min to an hour prior. You want to get your energy levels up so you have some ready fuel for your body to burn. That's when a serving of simple carbs (an English muffin with jelly, a bowl of cereal) comes in handy. During exercise, you want your body to focus on working your muscles, not breaking down foods with lots of fiber. So contrary to what you want to do the rest of the time, at this point you should feed your body simple sugars that are quickly absorbed and will give you bursts of energy.

If you have an endurance event such as a marathon or triathlon coming up, don't pig out on pasta the night before, though, or you might feel weighed down for the main event.  A better strategy? "You want to increase your carbohydrate intake by up to 100 grams a day-about an extra three servings-starting three days before the big event."

As for post-workout, the repair and re-growth of tissue rely not just on protein but also on replacing lost glycogen (broken-down carbohydrates) and fluids. Restore your body's energy with complex carbs-meaning fruit, grains, or vegetables paired with protein for muscle repair and growth. Good choices: yogurt and fruit, an apple and peanut butter, or a glass of skim chocolate milk. 

So how many carbs do I need?

That's going to depend on a lot of different factors such as age, how much you work out, what your lifestyle is like, and what your dietary restrictions are. We recommends getting 45 to 65 percent of your calories from carbs, depending on how much cardio you do (aerobic activity requires more carbs than Pilates, for example). You need 130 grams a day just for your brain to function, active women should aim for between 200 and 300 grams per day, active men should aim between 225 and 325 grams per day. 

And you never want to cut carbs-or any whole food group or macronutrient-out entirely. You'll likely miss out on important nutrients.  Many of the vitamins and minerals we need come from fruits and vegetables, so cutting these out can lead to deficiencies.

Even more: High-fiber carbs can help increase amounts of the feel-good hormone serotonin, which can improve mood, she says. Add healthy fats and protein and they'll keep your blood sugar steady, to boot.

And while no carb is "off limits" (hey, we all need cookies from time to time, right?), some are a healthier pick than others. To help steer your decisions, know that registered dietitians traditionally often suggest aiming for six servings of starches and whole grains, three to five servings of vegetables, three to four servings of fruits, two to three servings of dairy, no more than two servings of refined grains, and no more than one serving of "treats" a day.

Want something more specific? Use this sample menu as a guide. It adds up to nearly 215 grams of carbs.

- Breakfast (43g carbs): Whole-wheat English muffin with 1 slice Swiss cheese and 1 egg scrambled with 1 cup spinach + 1/2 grapefruit

- Lunch (72g carbs): Turkey sandwich on whole-wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, avocado, and cucumber + 6 ounces low-fat yogurt with 1/2 small peach, diced

- Snack (15g carbs): Apple + low-fat string cheese

- Dinner (51g carbs): 2 fish tacos made with corn tortillas, shredded cabbage and mango salsa + small side black beans

- Dessert (32g carbs): 1/2 cup light ice cream with 1/2 cup sliced strawberries


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Meet Jane Hart ~ Our Newest Yoga Instructor


From Jane Hart, our newest yoga instructor:

When I first started taking YTT (Yoga Teacher Training) class, my amazing teacher, Brian, asked us to write down two things: 1. What is your definition of yoga and 2. What is your intention for this training? For me, it is breathing purposefully to quiet my mind, loving the person I was created to be, and being strong from the inside out. My hope was to love myself more, learn how to let things go, and to teach others how to do the same. What I originally thought about yoga, over the fifteen years of practicing on and off, was that I did not like it at all! I tried different classes and several instructors. But I never had a teacher. You may ask ‘What is the difference’? An instructor calls out asanas (poses), moves quickly with no explanation, and seems to have very little knowledge of the real meaning of yoga. Brian taught me to cue my students into every asana and when we attained the position, he would tell us the name of the pose just in case we wanted to know it. He never left anyone behind. He would walk around the room making adjustments because he did not want us to injure ourselves. However, the most important thing he taught me was how to breathe. It seemed silly. I thought to myself ‘we are already breathing’. But instead he taught me how to get away from the noise in my head, how to focus on myself in a loving way, and join my mind, body, and spirit. Below is the ‘why’ I learned to breathe deeply.


Benefits of deep breathing – The sympathetic nervous system accelerates the heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and raises blood pressure when the body is challenged or stressed. The breath becomes short and rapid and one’s anxiety will increase. This is referred to as fight, flight, or freeze reaction.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the part of the involuntary nervous system that serves to slow the heart rate, increase intestinal and glandular activity, and relaxes and soothes all muscles – REST & DIGEST.

Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system commonly referred to as rest, digest, and relaxation.  Some of the benefits from deep controlled breathing are:

~Calms and quiets the mind (improves decision making skills)

~Lowers heart rate 

~Reduces and helps one manage anxiety

~Oxygenates the blood vessels (oxygen deprivation creates anxiety and brain fog)

~Improves the ability to concentrate and focus the mind on one point (stay on task)

~Increases body awareness (body language, nervous habits)

~Improves confidence (increased ability to convey or emphasize a point without running out of breath)

~Relaxes muscles while stretching

~A way to self soothe

~Creates a connection with the present moment

~Can help one remain calm while going through a challenging situation

My concentration is in Vinyasa flow and Ujjayi breathing technique, which I will describe the breathing below. As you may have read in my previous post, I was confused about the real meaning of yoga until I began practicing with my fabulous teacher, Brian. I will share with you below what he taught us about Ujjayi breathing and the Goal of Yoga.

The goal of yoga . . . no, it’s not a handstand. The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible or standing on your hands is not the goal.

The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. The goal is to love . . . well, you. Shift your focus and your heart will grow. Namaste, Brian.


I teach students how to breathe at the beginning of each class. Even if you already know this technique it helps to center you for the rest of our practice together. The breath is the main part while asanas (poses) are simply the movements we add with our bodies. Pranayama is the part of yoga that includes different systems of breathing. Prana translates as “life force”. It can also be described as our spirit and soul. The breathing technique I teach in my classes is called Ujjayi Pranayama. It is controlling the breath to create a sound like the waves of the ocean as you inhale and exhale. This is done by shaping the back of the throat to sound like you are fogging up your glasses when you exhale, and you continue to inhale the same way. Ujjayi is a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower stomach, then rises to the lower rib cage, and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. The length and speed of the breath is controlled by the diaphragm, the strengthening is part of the purpose of Ujjayi. The inhalations and exhalations are equal in duration and are controlled in a manner that causes no distress to the student. I would love for you to come to one of my classes, not only to teach you this technique but also how to connect your mind, body, and spirit through Hatha yoga. Peace & Love.